Researchers working on a global study have published two significant findings about adults with hypertension. They noted that many patients aren't aware they have the condition and that among those who do know, many aren't getting adequate drug therapy to control it.
The scientists, working under the auspices of the Population Health Research Institute at Canada's McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, studied 154,000 adults between the ages of 35 and 70, according to ScienceDaily. Their findings appeared in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, and are part of the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study. PURE is a multinational study funded by more than 25 organizations.
According to the Mayo Clinic, hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when the force of blood against artery walls reaches a high enough level to cause medical issues. A majority of patients with the disorder have no obvious symptoms. Hypertension can lead to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, aneurysms, problems with blood vessels in the eyes and kidneys, metabolic syndrome, and cognitive issues.
Doctors consider a blood pressure reading of 120/80 mm Hg normal. Those higher than 140/90 mm Hg represent high blood pressure, while those between 120 to 130/80 to 89 mm Hg signal prehypertension.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that nearly one of every three adults in the United States has high blood pressure. This figure represents 67 million individuals. The U.S. price tag for this disorder is $47.5 billion a year in direct medical expenses and $3.5 billion in lost productivity.
The subjects in the global study came from 17 countries with high, middle, and low income levels. They were a mix of patients with a history of stroke or heart disease and those with none. The researchers recorded a variety of information about their age, physical characteristics, risk factors, and education. They also noted whether the subjects were aware of having hypertension.
Fewer than half -- 46.5 percent -- of subjects with high blood pressure were aware that they had the disorder. Among those aware of having and being treated for hypertension, only 32.5 percent were actually controlled.
These findings puzzled the researchers, in part because the results occurred across the board, regardless of a country's income level. In addition, treatment is fairly easy to get, and drugs to lower blood pressure are considered inexpensive.
Specific solutions for the poor detection rate of hypertension and lack of adequate treatment for patients weren't apparent to the research team. They concluded that the study pointed out the need for deliberate efforts to detect high blood pressure. They also recognized the potential need for early use of a combination of at least two therapies to treat many patients.
Vonda J. Sines has published thousands of print and online health and medical articles. She specializes in diseases and other conditions that affect the quality of life.
- Heart & Vascular Disorders
- Hamilton Health Sciences